This is a killer premise, right? What if you got a head injury that caused you to have amnesia about the past ten years? What were you doing ten years ago? How are you different now? What would your ten years ago self think about your life now?
In What Alice Forgot the main character wakes up from a bad fall convinced it’s 1998 and that she’s 29, blissfully married, and expecting her first baby. Except it’s really 2008, her marriage is on the rocks, they have three kids, and she’s somehow become a gym rat, sharp and critical, and an expensive mum-about-town.
In seeing her life through the eyes of her younger self, Alice is forced to confront how small incremental choices can lead to major changes, and, as her memory slowly returns, she must negotiate between her two selves and decide what she really wants.
The themes in the book are thought-provoking. For example, I found myself really considering how my younger self would see my husband and children if they were like strangers, versus how I react to them with the memories of years of history. In the book, Alice looks at her oldest daughter and thinks to tell her how beautiful she is, or what a great sister she is, when the Alice who had raised the daughter for ten years was focused on negative things. And the younger Alice reacted to her husband as someone who adored and admired him, versus the older Alice who reacted based on years of hurts and disappointment. It really made me think about how I don’t always stop to take in the wonder of my family and to tell them how amazing they are.
At times I found the book a little annoying, in that awkward “Oh geez, she’s about to mess something up again” sort of way. But the strength of the premise and the conclusion redeemed it.
If you’re looking for an interesting, quick fiction read, you might check out What Alice Forgot.
What do you think your ten years ago self would think of the person you’ve become and the life you’re leading now?
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